Game and Fish leaders discussing service cuts

Mar 25, 2013 The Associated Press

GILLETTE -- Entire Wyoming Game and Fish Department programs may be in jeopardy in 2015 because of a lack of funding, according to agency and state Game and Fish Commission officials looking at potential budget cutting scenarios.

Game and Fish Commissioner Aaron Clark said the commission and department officials want to hear public comment about such proposals.

Each program and each service has a following, state Game and Fish Department Director Scott Talbott said.

"There isn't a single thing that this department and commission does that isn't important to some aspect of our constituency," he said.

The department had asked the Wyoming Legislature for license fee increases this year to continue current services, but the request was denied.

On Wednesday, the Game and Fish Commission gave preliminary approval to about $7 million worth of cuts to the agency's 2014 budget.

Rep. Marti Halverson, R-Star Valley, said after the meeting that she wondered if the current proposal, which includes cutting items like the Hunting and Fishing Heritage Expo and select fish stocking, is meant to alarm the public.

"I think it's the exact opposite," Clark said. "The majority of the cuts are internal and in the department, and the public shouldn't notice them."

The 2014 cuts include removing vehicles from the fleet, not filling vacant positions and not updating equipment.

The Hunting and Fishing Heritage Expo doesn't bring revenue to the department and costs $250,000 a year, Clark said.

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